The child is the father of the man
7th October 2019
This is a line from Wordsworth’s poem My heart leaps up, in which he writes about how his love of rainbows when young, remains into adulthood and that he hopes to go enjoying them for as long as he lives. The suggestion is that what we love in our youth determines the tastes of our maturity. I wonder how many of our interests and passions have their seeds sown in our childhood?
The older I get, the more I see the truth of this and with it a longing to spend more time pursuing those early interests such as birdwatching, in which I fully immersed myself as a child, usually without a specific goal, enjoying it for its own sake.
Such interests are likely to be shaped by the opportunities afforded us, responses by the adults in our upbringing to certain pursuits and other environmental factors, but that doesn’t always follow.
Of course there’s a great deal more that happens in our childhood that shapes the adult we are to become. This is what makes getting the early years of a child right, so very important. It’s in these years that our responses to children contribute to their social, moral, emotional and spiritual lives. Get it right in the early years and you set a child on good path for life. Of course the reverse is true too and that’s why parenting and Early Years education is so important.
The quotation also puts me in mind of the wonderful BBC documentary Seven up which started with a group of children from a range of backgrounds being interviewed when they were seven years old. They talked about their hopes, dreams and ambitions and then every seven years were filmed again, the most recent being this year as they all turned 64, in order to reflect on whether indeed the ‘child is father of the man’. Remarkably, the seeds of the adult in most of the children were visible, at least in hindsight.
And so as teachers and parents we have a very important job to fulfill. We are role models and that means being aware that it is as much the way we communicate, as the content of what we communicate, that is important in helping our children flourish. What a privilege and what could be more important?